The truth is there’s a simple technique that makes memorizing keyboard shortcuts very easy.
In fact, this technique is so effective that within 30 days you’ll be using the keyboard to perform dozens of functions without as much as glancing at the Ribbon (toolbars and menus for you old timers).
But there is one obstacle you need to overcome in order to use this technique – the same obstacle we face every time we try to acquire a new skill, whether it is learning a new set of shortcuts, how to touch-type or how to create more compelling graphs.
You see, no matter what new skill you try to learn, in the beginning, when you try to use this new skill, it will slow you down.
And that’s where most of us break. We learn something new, something that’s supposed to help us do a better/faster job. We try to use it, and… we actually do worse than before. We become slower and make more mistakes.
At that point we start blaming ourselves or the circumstances,
“This thing doesn’t work for me”
“I don’t have enough time to learn this properly”
Or my personal favorite … “I am not smart enough to learn this”
This phenomenon is called ‘the dip’ (this term was coined by Mr. Seth Godin).
It is a sad fact that most of us stop trying when we enter the ‘dip’. Instead we search for a new skill to learn only to get stuck in a yet bigger ‘dip’.
To cross the dip you need to think of it as a close personal friend.
You must embrace the challenge and welcome the temporary setback that tags along. This setback is a prerequisite to learning. And by welcoming it we change the tune of our internal dialog.
And so, Instead of quitting, you’ll be saying to yourself…
“Hmm… this is difficult…”
“If this is difficult, it means that I’m learning”
“Not only that, it means that it’s difficult for everyone. “
“Well, I am going to cross this dip. It might take me a week or even a month, but I am getting across.”
“And when I get through this, I am going to be far more skilled than I am now”
“And to top that, most people will quit here. Which means…”
“More competitive advantage for me. Yay!”
Note: There are excellent ways to make the crossing of the dip easier (which we will discuss in future articles), but simply understanding the dip dynamics is the key to overcoming it.
So now that we know how to face the dips in our lives, let’s focus on the shortcut memorization technique …
And as promised, it is very simple.
Whenever you need to evoke a function, instead of using the mouse, press the ALT key and use the character keys to navigate your way through the menus until you finally reach the function you need.
This will initially slow you down, but after a while, you’ll memorize the sequence of each of the functions you normally use.
Later, you’ll get to a point where you won’t even consciously think about what you want to do. Your fingers will automatically activate the functions you need.
Granted, there are functions (both in Excel and Word) that cannot be triggered with a menu command. We’ll discuss the shortcuts for these functions in the next article.
For now, just start using the alt key and remember…
The dip is your best friend!
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